Catlin wins thriller at 2018 Sarawak Championship

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John Catlin of the United States sank a clutch birdie putt on the last hole to win his second Asian Tour title in a thrilling final round at the US$300,000 Sarawak Championship on Saturday.

The 27-year-old held his nerve before rolling in a five-foot putt on the par-four 18th hole to edge his closest challengers Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, Danthai Boonma and Paul Peterson of the United States by a single shot at the Damai Golf and Country Club.

There was very little breathing space for Catlin in the final round but he eventually prevailed after returning with a bogey-free six-under-par 66 for a 22-under-par 266 total in the inaugural Asian Tour event.

A fast charging Jazz birdied 16 and eagled 17 for a superb 64 to set the clubhouse target on 21-under before settling for second place with countryman Danthai (66) and overnight leader Peterson, who also birdied the last to finish with a 68.

With Jazz safely in the clubhouse, the Sarawak Championship looked likely to enter extra time before Catlin stepped up to sink the crucial putt under immense pressure.

Jazz failed to win back-to-back titles but the result will give him and Danthai the much needed confidence ahead of their Major debut at The Open in two weeks.

The 30-year-old Peterson was disappointed not to win the Sarawak Championship where he held the lead since the opening round. He piled the pressure on Catlin with a cool birdie finish on the last but eventually settled for second place.

Did you know?

  • Catlin only dropped one bogey this week in the second round. He snared a total of 21 birdies in 72 holes.
  • He got off to hot start when he birdied the opening two holes before adding four birdies on his homeward nine on holes 10, 12, 17 and 18.
  • He becomes the first player to win multiple titles on the Asian Tour in 2018. He won his first Asian Tour title at the Asia-Pacific Classic in China in May.
  • The victory was especially sweet for Catlin who finished second last year in an Asian Development Tour (ADT) event which was played on the same course.
  • He continues his impressive form this year where he has won two titles and missed only one cut in eight Asian Tour appearances.
  • He won US$54,000 and 14 Official World Golf Ranking points. The victory also pushes him to 10th place on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings.
  • Catlin and Chan Shih-chang are now the most successful ADT players on the Asian Tour where they both hold two victories on the region’s premier Tour. 
  • Catlin’s career has been on the upswing since he finished third on the ADT Order of Merit last year to earn his Asian Tour card in 2018.
  • Jazz missed out on a chance to become the first player to win in successive weeks since 2011. He came close when he eagled the 17th hole from five feet.
  • Danthai’s title drought continues on the Asian Tour. He won his first title in 2015 but has struggled to replicate his winning form. He was also bogey-free in a round of six birdies.
  • Peterson missed out on a chance to win his second Asian Tour title in 2018. However, the American can hold his head high after shooting his personal best of 63 on the Asian Tour in the opening round.
  • The Sarawak Championship is only his second Asian Tour event since taking a six-week break to spend time with his family in the United States.

Player quotes:

John Catlin (Usa) – Final Round 66 (-6), Total 266 (-22)

It was crazy! It was a grind all week long. People keep making birdies and I asked myself ‘when is my birdie going to be enough!’ I finally did it on the 18th hole and that’s what I needed.

Danthai, Peterson and I were tied after the 12th hole and suddenly on 17 we saw that Jazz was one ahead of us! Honestly I wanted someone to go ahead because I figured it would push me and put a little fire under me. That’s probably why I birdied the last hole.

I saw Peterson birdied 18 as well but it didn’t change the situation. It actually helped me seeing the break because I wouldn’t have played quite as much break if I hadn’t seen Paul’s putt. Seeing his putt go in was definitely helpful.

The putt on the last hole was huge because of all the putts from that distance which I missed this week. The win in China was monumental because if I had to go through what I did today without winning earlier this year, I’m not sure if I could have pulled it off. It was nice to have that little bit of winning experience to calm me down.

It is crazy how life pans out. My coach actually told me to come out to Asia. My first two years was really eye opening and I realised what are the areas of my game that I needed to improve on in order to compete. Having a full year on the ADT was big for me to get my feet wet. I won a few times there and that gave me the confidence.

It is crazy where life will take you. I never thought I would be in Asia and now I’ve been here for three and a half years. I remember landing in Bangkok and I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t even know where Hua Hin is but now I live there. It is pretty crazy.

Both my victories are equally awesome. You can’t really put one above the other.

Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) – Final Round 64 (-8), Total 267 (-21)

I didn’t think I had a chance today! I didn’t think I could come close and I started really slow on the front nine. I’m happy that I continued to play this well leading into The Open. After the birdie on 16, I still felt like I was too far but I hit it close on 17 and made eagle. That changed everything but I couldn’t birdie the last hole. It is okay because from no chance of winning, I actually gave myself a glimmer of hope.

Danthai Boonma (Tha) – Final Round 66 (-6), Total 267 (-21)

I played really well. I had six birdies and I was bogey free. I really tried my best. I missed a few short birdie putts on 13 and 14 but that’s golf. I was a little bit nervous but I’m still proud with how I played. I have more confidence now before The Open. I’m off next week so I will practice harder for my first Major championship.

Paul Peterson (Usa) – Final Round 68 (-4), Total 267 (-21)

It was a tremendous week. This is the most under-par I’ve ever been in my professional career. There are a lot of positives to take from the week. It was going to take someone to play a really good round to beat me and that’s what happened. I birdied the last to try and rattle him but a great putt by him. He deserved the win.

We all made putts to go to 20-under on 12 and then we all missed some putts and it was like ‘does anybody really want to win this tournament?’ I had a really good putt on 15 but it hit the lip. I did everything I could and I knew that I had to birdie 18 and I did that. When I look through my career, I can tell myself that I made putts when I needed to. That’s the positive I will take out from this week.

Scores after round 4 of the Sarawak Championship being played at the par 72, 6970 Yards Damai GC course (am – denotes amateur):

266 – John CATLIN (USA) 67-65-68-66.

267 – Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 66-66-71-64, Danthai BOONMA (THA) 67-66-68-66, Paul PETERSON (USA) 63-67-69-68.”

268 – Javi COLOMO (ESP) 66-67-68-67.

269 – Mark BROWN (NZL) 65-71-67-66.

270 – Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 67-69-70-64, Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 67-70-68-65, Kevin LEE (KOR) 67-65-71-67.”

272 – Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) 66-69-67-70.

273 – Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 70-67-70-66, Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 68-71-67-67, Himmat RAI (IND) 68-67-70-68, Maverick ANTCLIFF (AUS) 69-69-67-68, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 68-68-66-71.

274 – Natipong SRITHONG (THA) 68-67-69-70.

For full results click here

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